Idaho Center Recommends
by Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho -- At the urging of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, funding and data analysis duties would be cut from the Fish Passage Center in Portland, under House legislation approved this week.
The Fish Passage Center, created by the Northwest Power Act, counts the number of computer chips embedded in young hatchery salmon as they pass dams. Craig said transferring funding and duties of salmon studies away from the center would streamline fish and wildlife recovery costs for the Bonneville Power Administration.
"Idaho's water should not be flushed away on experimental policies based on cloudy, inexact assumptions," Craig said in a prepared statement. "I will continue to look for ways to ensure that dams and salmon can coexist and thrive, rather than give in to the myth that the Northwest can only have one or the other."
But salmon advocates criticized the move, saying the fish count duties could be transferred to an agency with a conflict of interest such as the BPA. Adair Damman, a regional director of the Sierra Club, called on lawmakers to "ensure that BPA does not sabotage the necessary scientific data and analysis provided by the experts at the Fish Passage Center."
The center provides crucial information on salmon trends, said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry.
"We should not scatter to the four winds this region's best planning tool for our fishing businesses," Hamilton said.
The House of Representatives approved the Energy and Water conference report on Wednesday. The Senate was expected to approve it as well.
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